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The Boston Globe

Sports

Dan Shaughnessy

Patriots’ questions won’t come until playoffs

Picked-up pieces while reminding all of you that John Henry’s greatness has been vastly underappreciated . . .

 Sorry, I just can’t get jazzed up about the Patriots until tournament time. We know they are going to be in the playoffs. We just don’t know what they’ll do in the playoffs. They will be in the postseason because they always win the easy, cheesy AFC East. Ho-hum. Winning the AFC East is like getting 200 points for signing your name when you take the SAT exam. It’s automatic. The Bills stink. The Jets stink. The Dolphins, once again, are hopeful. Every year the Patriots are artificially inflated by the weakness of the AFC East. They get five wins and a division crown just for showing up. Then they get to the playoffs and somebody punches them in the mouth and they fail. Since going 18-0 in 2007-08 — since David Tyree — the Patriots are 3-5 in the playoffs. Two of those wins were against two of the worst playoff teams of the modern era: the 2011 Broncos (an 8-8 team that was outscored during the season and quarterbacked by Tim Tebow), and the 2012 Letter Sweater frauds from Houston. The Patriots’ only impressive playoff win since the 2007 AFC Championship would be the 3-point victory over the Ravens in the AFC Championship game in the 2011-12 season. That victory required a dropped touchdown pass and a missed 32-yard field goal by the Ravens at the finish. So your Patriots, while winning the division every season, have not been a good playoff team since 2007. See you in January.

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 Why do otherwise smart people lose common sense in the worship of sports heroes? David Ortiz last weekend deserved to be benched by his manager and suspended by Major League Baseball. Instead, we had cries about punishing the umpire and a general acceptance that Big Papi was just blowing off a little steam. Really? Beloved Papi said he did not deserve to be “disrespected” when the plate umpire missed the call. Wow. The Sox DH was the one who disrespected the game (and the umpire) when he backed out of the batter’s box before the pitch crossed the plate. The ball was high (barely; the famed Amica pitch zone indicated it was a strike). A wrong call. But not by a lot. There are wrong calls every night. A bad call at home plate hurt the Red Sox against Tampa on Monday, but a missed strike call saved Jonny Gomes in Thursday’s Red Sox walkoff win. It works both ways. That’s baseball. The bottom line is that Ortiz was being selfish last Saturday. The bad call against him meant nothing in the scheme of the game. The Sox were up, 7-2, in the seventh. In this instance, Ortiz cared only about himself and his numbers, just as he did when he stormed into his manager’s news conference late in 2011 because he wanted a scoring change to get an RBI from the night before. This time, he nearly beheaded the best player on the team and risked injury to himself and others in the dugout by splintering a dugout phone and his bat. And there was never an apology. No contrition. And nobody objected. Remember this the next time a 12-year-old takes a bat to a water cooler. Why not? Big Papi did it and got four hits the next day. Yahoo. Ortiz is the greatest DH in baseball history and has done much to make things better in our community. He is a good guy and a great hitter, but nobody gets his transgressions covered up like this guy (remember the support when he showed up on the list of positives in 2003? The FCC saying it was A-OK to drop an expletive on national television?). Sometimes Ortiz is wrong. This was one of those times.

 We loved George Scott. He could say anything and it was never harmful, only funny. During the Sox’ epic collapse of 1978, Orioles first base coach Jim Frey chatted up the Boomer between innings while Scott was tossing grounders to his infielders. Frey wanted to know what was happening to the once-hot Red Sox. Without even turning around, Boomer softly said, “Some of these guys are choking, man.’’ Boomer endured an 0-for-34 slump a few weeks later.

 If you want to understand the complex governance of the 2013 Red Sox owners, read Alex Speier’s three-part series on WEEI.com. It is thorough (12,000 words) and spectacular. One of the many nuggets: Boston’s baseball ops department this year moved out of the basement (the old bowling alley), back into upstairs offices near other employees. The basement issue was a problem in the final days of Theo. It split the front office: It created Baseball ops vs. everybody else.

 The last man to tackle Aaron Hernandez in the 2012 AFC Championship game? Bernard Pollard. Who else? He’s the same guy with the famous hits on Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Stevan Ridley. He was also standing closest to Wes Welker when Welker blew out his ACL in 2010.

 Speaking of Welker, I love how the Patriot toadies contend that losing Welker is actually a good thing. Now Tom Brady will finally find the open man instead of forcing the ball to his favorite target. Right.

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 Orioles slugger Chris Davis talking to the Baltimore Sun about steroid suspicion: “I actually would prefer to talk about it because everybody is thinking in the back of their minds, ‘a guy can’t go from being this terrible to this good.’ ’’

 Those Pouncey twins (Miami’s Mike and Pittsburgh’s Maurkice) are a couple of funny guys. They wore “Free Hernandez” baseball caps at their birthday bash last month.

 Best to everyone in the Pan-Mass Challenge this weekend, including ultramarathoner Adam Scully-Power, who’ll be running the entire 163 miles with a goal of raising $25,000. He plans to be on his feet running for 40 consecutive hours.

 Does Magic Johnson get a playoff share if the Red Sox win the American League East?

 Jeremy Roenick missed the Stanley Cup-winning goal while riding in the Garden elevator from the ninth floor down to Level Three to interview the Bruins for NBC. This happens more often than you think.

 Plaxico Burress has introduced a new line of men’s luxury hosiery.

 Never saw a manager look worse than Seattle’s interim boss Robby Thompson in the dugout at Fenway this week. He had “defeat” plastered all over his face during the Red Sox’ six-run rally in the ninth Thursday.

 If you want a laugh, Google “Mick Jagger” and “basketball” and you’ll see a photo of Mick standing in the back row of his school basketball team at Dartford Grammar School back in the day. Gives “moves like Jagger” a whole new meaning.

 Tickets are on sale for an ALS fund-raiser event involving former BC baseball captain Peter Frates on Sept. 12 at the House of Blues in Boston. Check out www.facebook.com/CountryStrikesOutALS for details.

 The New York Daily News recently uncovered clips of a Latino All-Star baseball game played at the Polo Grounds in October 1963. Players were paid $175 and the game featured Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and Felipe Alou.

 Leave it to the Astros’ Erik “Blood and Guts” Bedard to walk away from a no-hitter.

 Congratulations to Newton SouthEast Little Leaguers, the state champs playing in the New England Regionals in Bristol, Conn., this weekend.

 The Dodgers are white hot, but there’s still plenty of time for Adrian “The Cooler” Gonzalez to bump them out of the playoffs. In the last three seasons, Gonzo has been part of epic folds in San Diego, Boston, and LA.

 In the Red Sox press guide, the bio of Dr. Charles Steinberg is longer than that of Ben Cherington.

 So John Henry wants to buy the Globe, offering less than half of what he committed to Carl Crawford? I’m feeling like Biff washing McFly’s car at the end of “Back to the Future.’’

 Saw Denzel Washington on ESPN this week. He said he played high school ball with the late Ray Williams and played on a freshman team at Fordham coached by P.J. Carlesimo.

 Still waiting for NESN to explain why they couldn’t bring back Naoko Funayama on Bruins’ telecasts. Smart, prepared, competent, and professional just isn’t what it used to be, I guess.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.

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